Friday, February 27, 2009

All that you can be

Someone smarter than me pointed out that man is the only living thing that chooses not to live to its fullest potential. A tree, that person said, will grow to a hundred feet if it is in his genetic make up to do so given favorable conditions. Man on the other hand, even in a favorable environment, may choose to be less than he can be. Potential is what I was thinking when a few Daffodils grew where none were supposed to. The one here is an example of how a Daffodil will grow to its full potential. I am a poor photographer so this picture does not do justice to the beauty of this flower. Last Fall, my brother and I cleared this spot for my lavender and scleranthus. We thought we moved all the bulbs.

According to the weather people, The first week of March around here will see highs in the 60's. My lettuce is looking a little stressed so I need to transplant it to their appointed raised bed. My plans for the weekend include a trip to gather 5 different types of compost to recharge the beds. I got onions, lettuce, and carrots to plant. I will also sow my first batch of radish. This year I am growing my potatoes in plastic bags. I can't wait to get started

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tesak Pascola

This is one of my favorite stories. I've heard it told different ways. This version has a more contemporary feel to it but it takes nothing from the original story. I got this version from here. Visit the link so you can see the beautiful Watermelon Horse sculpture this person made.

Anyway, it think of it as an accidental gardening story.

Tesak Pascola
In old Sonora lived Tesak Pascola, a Yaqui gentleman rancher. He had an old horse who was his favorite: didn't use him much; just let the old horse wander free on the vast pastures of the rancho. One time, Tesak Pascola decided to visit a friend on a neighboring rancho. Seeing the old favorite grazing close to the hacienda, he decided to saddle him up and ride him the little way to the neighbor's. And so they went. Tesak spent a pleasant afternoon with his friend, and was gifted with a fine watermelon from the friend's garden to take home, as well. When he was ready to return home, Tesak noticed that the trip had caused the old horse to acquire a saddle sore on his back. He felt real bad about this, and decided to leave his saddle and walk the horse home. First he applied a healing pack of mud to the horse's back, then off home they went. Tesak cut into the watermelon and shared it with the old horse as they walked. Munch, munch, they ate the watermelon and tossed the seeds away. When they got home, Tesak applied more mud to the horse and then turned him loose to roam.....Tesak didn't see the old one for quite a while, but he didn't think much about this, as the rancho was such a huge place. Then one day he decided to go in search of the old horse. But he couldn't find him anywhere! Worried, Tesak continued to search and search. What he did find in one field was a huge watermelon vine...and coming from inside a sound: "munch, munch"! Tesak Pascole began tearing thru the vine and at the center found...his old horse! Contentedly munching watermelons! The seeds Tesak had thrown away on that day weeks ago had taken root in the mud on the horse's back and grown with the monsoon rains...rooting the horse to the ground eventually, but he didn't care- he was growing himself an endless supply of delicious watermelons to eat (for you non-horse people: horses LOVE watermelon)! All good things come to an end, however- Tesak cut away the vine, and also harvested many good-sized ripe watermelons the horse hadn't gotten to, yet. And he shared the melons with all the neighbors.....A few years later, the well-loved old horse died. Then the whole community gave a fiesta and mourned the passing of Tesak Pascola's Wonderful Watermelon Horse.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Honesty in gardening and in life

I just read an article by Gayla Trail that made me feel a little bit like a phony. Here I am posting about my "gardening philosophy" while she is writing deeply personal and honest stories about gardening and life.
I think I need to stop thinking about this plant growing thing I do and just do it. I need to just shut my mouth and let the experience itself be.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ugly for sure

I put my tomatoes out the other day for the first time when the temperature got to 50 degrees and the sun was full out. Although I only left them out for an hour, a couple of them did not do very well. So this time out, I devised a quick "cloche" and put one of the Brandywine tomatoes out for half a day. Ugly yes, but it appears to have worked. The Brandywine did not look bad at all when I brought it in for the night.

Also, most of my seedlings are ready to be transplanted into pots. This year I have committed myself to using peat pots so that's where most of these little guys are going. From there they are going into their final containers.

I have one more set of seeds to sow and that will be the last of them. The next step: fighting weather, bugs, curious children and curious dogs.

Peppers and Tomatoes

My Gardening Style

I started gardening 6 years ago. My initial attempt at gardening consisted of going to the local Mega Gigantico Mart and getting some seeds off a cardboard rack in their gardening section, buying a 72 cell mini disposable greenhouse, dropping the seeds --all peppers, into the now moistened cells and forgetting about the whole thing for a week.
I read none of the seed packets; I read no gardening books; I researched nothing on the Internet. Remembering how my mother just put seeds in discarded soup cans with regular dirt from the garden in them and got EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to grow on the windowsill of her kitchen window, I simply expected the seeds to germinate and become plants without any work on my part.

These days I put a little more effort into the whole exercise and also, I have began to think about my gardening style, my gardening philosophy: What kind of gardener am I? Why do I do this? Do I really need to grow 22 varieties of pepper?
I think the answers to these questions are taking shape every growing season. For example, I am now as concerned about the life under the garden as the life above it. This year, I have postponed turning my garden plot because I am concerned about all the little creatures hibernating under it. Then I read about the no-till gardening method and it seems sensible and appropriate to me.

And this concern about the ground critters is not a fad. I recognize a fad! If you want fads, I got fads!

  • Upside down hanging tomato planters. As seen on TV!
  • Self-watering containers. Home made because it was cheaper and more fun.
  • Water walls. Growing season extenders!

Also, every year I learn about a new thing in gardening and I just have to try it:

Square foot gardening. This one may turn out to be a life-long pursuit.
Ollas. Also may keep this one forever, if I ever get one!
Winter sowing in plastic milk containers. Just learned about this one so I haven't tried it.
Watering spikes. They work but are expensive and plastic.
Soil Blocks. These are growing plugs made only out of compressed dirt. They sell the contraption to make them but you can also find instructions on DIY versions on the Internet (of course!).
Tomato ladders. The coolest thing ever but I am waiting on my brother to weld me some.

These techniques and tools may be replaced by the next big thing but my overall gardening philosophy, the base of it all is something more stable and that's what I am talking about here.